Ladybugs, pyrazines and 2011 vintage

With the 2011 en primeur season kicking off, story of similarities between 2004 and 2011 has been making the rounds on the interwebs. What was the problem with 2004? While the whites were of superb quality, the reds picked up a herbaceous and green characteristics, both on the nose and palate. While official reason for this “taint” is not confirmed, many attribute it to the unusually large number of ladybugs that arrived with the grapes on the sorting table. Similarly, there has been stories of even more ladybugs finding their way onto the sorting table in the 2011 vintage.
Affectionately known, or unaffectionately depending on viewpoints, as the “green meanies” is most often caused by an aromatic organic compound called pyrazines. While lots of debate still rages on whether it is specifically the ladybugs that are the root cause, pyrazines are indeed found in legs of ladybugs as defence mechanisms.
Silver lining
While unbearable for many, there are likewise as many people who don’t mind the greeness. Certain people don’t even register the characteristics. However, it would be wise to approach 2011 with caution, especially with the price hike in anticipation of low yield in 2012. After all, the “green meanies” weren’t picked up until a few years after bottling.

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